Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Louisiana Challenge

   I just completed a challenge that was posted by the Louisiana Street Team. It was to create an item that was inspired by "Jazz." Obviously that is quite a large category, specifically in the Greater New Orleans Area. I'm originally from a bit farther South than the Crescent City, 60 miles further South. The kind of music that was key to my region was Zydeco and Swamp Pop. As soon as I recognized this, I was immediately inspired to create this piece. 
   It is influenced by the washboard, which is a major instrument in many bands that were from my area. I added a pearl because my town, Houma, was the oyster capital of the United States up until about 30 years ago. I'm very proud of this piece because I feel that it reflects a very personal part of my history. 
   It's made of sterling silver and has a freshwater pearl. It's quite heavy and slightly longer than a quarter. 
   I must say, that this challenge was a lot of fun, and I'm very proud of what was created. As soon as I see some of the other pieces from the challenge, I will post them with a little description.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Tiny Glimpse of the Outfit

   I have to admit that my studio is quite small. But it does have a window, which lets in plenty of natural light. The good thing is that it is outside, so that none of the harmful fumes associated with jewelry penetrates into the house. It also has a very big concrete utility sink for all of my chemical mixing needs. 
   I do believe that one of the most important things for any creative endeavor to thrive, is that there has to be a place that is usually associated with that creative process. Virginia Wolfe's book A Room of One's Own, describes the necessity of that idea. Essentially, one wants a place that allows a freedom of ideas away from the normal activities of the day. I would be severely set back if I had to get up every five seconds because of outside intrusion. 
   Personally, I wouldn't want to use my torch anywhere near anyone else. Even though it is quite small, that baby gets a little over 5,000 degrees with butane and oxygen. It would be much hotter if I used acetylene, but it isn't necessary. This is my torch and my flex shaft tool getting together. This actually isn't my only torch. I have another, larger, more violent looking torch, but I prefer the lightness and ease of this one. It is definitely far less intimidating! This was actually a hand-me-down flex shaft that I recently acquired. Before that I was actually using a Dremel tool to grind on my pieces. Unfortunately, it couldn't live up to the high demands I had put on it, so it was retired. 
   One of the things that I have found to be key to making successful art is the willingness to try alternative ways to execute techniques that are relatively commonplace. For example, instead of using a lost wax process of casting, why not try different ways of making a mold and pouring metal. Each alternative technique creates a different surface, quality and overall look of one piece. I personally shy away from common metal techniques. On first blush, this may sound silly, but I have come up with many more ideas from trying to bend my mind around trying to recreate the wheel. It also helps if you try this if you are lacking some of the more expensive jewelers tools. After all, "necessity is the mother of all invention."

First Post (or the post that hurts the most)

Well, this is my very first post so I'd better explain myself. This blog is intended to be a glimpse inside my jewelry studio, which I affectionately call "The Outfit." In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Three Garridebs," Sherlock refers to a "counterfitter's outfit." I liked the word outfit as it refers to metal, so that's what I christened my studio. I am certainly not counterfitting anything, but I do like the way it sounds. 

I shall soon post pictures of my humble studio for everyone to see. There's nothing more interesting than learning where someone creates their own precious works of art.